Intel Receives Injunction Against Former Employee Who Joined Micron

Credit: Ken Wolter/ShutterstockCredit: Ken Wolter/ShutterstockThe hardest part of any breakup is figuring out who gets what. For most couples that means divvying up furniture, decorations and other fairly trivial stuff. It's a lot more complicated when tech workers split with their employers, as demonstrated by Intel and a former engineering manager who now works at Micron.

Intel feared that the manager, Doyle Rivers, could share information about 3D XPoint and Optane with his new employer. But The Register reported today that the chipmaker has received a preliminary injunction against Rivers that prohibits him from possessing, using, or disclosing any of that info.

The court order gives Rivers three business days to return any confidential data in his possession. It's not clear how that order's affected by Rivers' lawyers' claim that some information--including the personnel list at the crux of Intel's complaint--isn't really confidential. 

One a Rivers' lawyers told The Register that the order was mutually agreed upon because Rivers "doesn't have anything to return." The lawyer, Alto Litigation's Daniel Sakaguchi, also said he and Rivers "continue to take the position that Intel's claims are greatly exaggerated." (Typical breakup smack-talk.)

Those claims are numerated in Intel's lawsuit against Rivers filed in November. They include allegations that Rivers attempted to copy a "top secret" file after secretly accepting the job at Micron. That effort was said to be unsuccessful, but Intel claimed that Rivers copied "a highly sensitive compilation of Intel personnel information." This info could be used to poach vital Intel employees.

From there, it devolves into a he-said corporate-entity-said. Rivers' lawyers, according to The Register, said a list of employees isn't actually a trade secret. (An argument supported realistically, if not legally, by the fact that LinkedIn exists.) It's up to the court to decide whether or not that's the case.

Sometimes companies have to make sure their workers don't take any sensitive information to their new employer. But this particular case is probably exacerbated by the fact that Intel previously worked with Micron on 3D XPoint and Optane. It's a breakup within a breakup with a lot of IP involved.